20. Is there a relationship between tea intake and maternal whole blood heavy metal concentrations? (abstract)

Colapinto CKArbuckle TE, Dubois L, Fraser WD. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2016), 1–7. Advance online publication, 6 January 2016; doi:10.1038/jes.2015.86

The aim of this analysis was to examine the association between tea intake during pregnancy and maternal and infant metal exposures. Data from the Maternal-Infant Research on Environmental Chemicals (MIREC) Study, a pan-Canadian pregnancy cohort, were used. All participants with a gestational age of 20 weeks (n=1954) with available biomarkers were included. Geometric means (GMs) for lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium and manganese in maternal (first and third trimesters) and cord blood, as well as speciated arsenic in maternal urine in the first trimester, were calculated for participants who drank regular, green or herbal tea and for those who did not. Differences between groups were examined using chi-square tests. Adjusted least squares geometric means (LSGMs) were estimated by tea intake, controlling for factors such as country of birth, coffee intake and maternal smoking. Concentrations of all metals were above the limits of detection in most participants in the first trimester: lead (GM): 0.62 μg/dl), mercury (GM: 2.99 nmol/l); cadmium (GM 1.93 nmol/l), arsenic (GM 9.75 nmol/l) and manganese (GM 160.1 nmol/l). Adjusted LSGMs for lead in the first trimester were higher for tea drinkers than for those who were non-tea drinkers (LSGM 0.65 μg/dl, 95%CI: 0.62, 0.69 and 0.61 μg/dl, 95%CI: 0.59, 0.62), and there was evidence of a dose–response relationship for green and herbal tea. Those who consumed herbal tea in the third trimester had significantly higher third trimester maternal and cord blood lead concentrations than non-herbal tea drinkers. This study provides evidence of an association between blood lead concentrations and green or herbal tea consumption. However, the GM blood lead concentrations of the highest tea consumers were still less than 1 μg/dl and within the normal range of blood lead concentrations in the Canadian population.